Altidore proud to give Haiti something to cheer

IRENE - Striker Jozy Altidore is aiming not only to help the United States go far in the 2010 World Cup but also to bring a sense of pride to the tragedy hit Caribbean homeland of his parents.

Altidore is the son of immigrants from Haiti which was hit by a devastating earthquake in January that killed up to 300,000 people and left more than one million homeless.

In the crowded camps in the Haitian capital and other quake-stricken areas, people have gained some distraction from the daily hardships by watching the World Cup and Altidore says he knows they will be keeping a particular eye out for a player who has never hidden his pride in his roots.

"They are incredibly resilient, after all the things that have gone on there for them still be the same people, happy people, who look forward to each day. For me it is an honour to be Haitian and represent them," he said on Wednesday.

The government and several national and foreign sponsors have set up giant screens in popular areas, around tent cities and elsewhere to help residents watch the games.

"It's a football crazy country, it's the number one sport there, nothing else gets close," he said, adding that he and his family are involved in several aid initiatives.

"We are trying to do a lot of things there, trying to help out. There are still a lot of people in very tough conditions, you have a lot of kids who are orphans now, who are sleeping alone and sleeping on the streets, we are trying to do what helps," he said.

Altidore was playing in England when the disaster hit Haiti and he said he found it hard to keep his mind on the task of playing for Hull City.

"It was depressing, even when I was playing football, football wasn't on my mind. It was just the worst possible mindset - playing in the biggest league in the world, playing for a team that was trying to avoid relegation - they needed all their players to be there," he said.,

"It was a tough time for me and I am happy that I am finally getting over it now."

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